Copeland/McNair : Changing Strategy

Published on 24.12.2011 - Antarctica 2011-12 Legacy Crossing

Each time we receive an update from Copeland, we wonder what subjet he is going to talk about. Well once more, reading his last update we haven't been disappointed...

The weight of the silence

Well this time, On 22 December, Copeland starts shooting off at top speed and finds something beautiful to say about the silence : " ... A quietness that screams at you is hard to find. But on the ice, in a world void of life and on a windless day, silence takes on a weight that I have yet to experience anywhere. Beyond the screeching hiss that overtakes the audible sense, the slightest sound explodes through the ear canal as if captured in an isolation chamber. On a sleepless night, the heartbeat alone will dictate a clock-like rhythmic pounding there to remind you of each minute that drags on. And with each of those minutes, I contemplated the windless conditions and dubious prospects of the coming days. I dozed off a few times only to wake up to the same state, in and out of my head. By morning, the stillness of the tent’s fabric confirmed the night’s prediction: this will be another static day. ..."

The day before another pearl : " ... Stillness surrounds us. All night the tent was battered again by the lashing winds, shaking, howling and hissing. By morning, however, the silence was deafening. Not a flutter from the tent, nor a whisper in the air. The sun was in hiding as evidenced by the sharp drop in temperature inside, and the absence of the morning blast of light over Eric’s side of the tent. Outside, a fog had overtaken the landscape, shrouding us in a blanket of white. Small crystal were dropping from the sky, but you could hear a pin drop: not a sound and a complete white out. The chill was piercing, and the temperature gage hit below 30C. That is all it took to get back to the warm feathers of the sleeping bag. As the day wore on, the horizon fought to outline itself, slowly defining a band of pale blue hues from the white midst. The sky looked like an abstract minimalist painting. Life imitating art. ..."

Apart from that, pair Copeland/McNair is still quite dubious about reaching in time the POI or not. They know of course that the only factor that is going to decide about their future is the wind. And only the wind. But it's also obvious that they can not stay like this tentbounded for days. Otherwise it's the all adventure which is going to be ruined. So they decide to take action.

Change the strategy

First they go over their strategy : if winds develop during their sleep, even if it is in the middle of their night (no matter what time it could be), they pack up and go.

They also took the decision that, if the wind does not manifest, they will ski and not wait tentbounded just as they have done so far.

Why this sudden change ? Because the terrain has smoothened out some these last days, and also because the sledges are at least by one hundred pound lighter. It makes the gliding with harness easier.

Second they decided to call the famous belgian hydro-meteorologist Marc De Keyser (we have spoken already about him and his company in this update) to discover what kind of weather would await them on their next route to the POI. An hour after their call, the meteorologist called back and sayd : " Four to six knots from the south tomorrow, which is not going to help you much”.

“However, a front is moving towards you and you should see about fifteen knots building from the north in the afternoon of the 24th. This should grow through the night to twenty five to thirty knots on the 25th. You should reach the POI by Christmas day !”

Copeland adds : "Aside from being a star, Marc right then was the closest I felt to Santa since I was four years old! His model predictions are notoriously on the money. That means probably a rest day tomorrow, and, short of another surprise, we should definitely see a white Christmas–at the POI ! ..."

Their last position (on 22 December) : 81°22.321 S / 49°03.220 E / Elevation : 12.072 feet.


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